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The Paschal Candle

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The Paschal candle represents Christ, the Light of the World.

The pure beeswax of which the candle is made represents the sinless Christ who was formed in the womb of His Mother. The wick signifies His humanity, the flame, His Divine Nature, both soul and body.

Five grains of incense inserted into the candle in the form of a cross recall the aromatic spices with which His Sacred Body was prepared for the tomb, and of the five wounds in His hands, feet, and side.

During the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night the priest or deacon carries the candle in procession into the dark church. A new fire, symbolizing our eternal life in Christ, is kindled which lights the candle. The candle, representing Christ himself, is blessed by the priest who then inscribes in it a cross, the first letters and last of the Greek alphabet, (Alpha and Omega `the beginning and the end’) and the current year, as he chants the prayer below; then affixes the five grains of incense.

The Easter candle is lighted each day during Mass throughout the Paschal season until Ascension Thursday.

(Copied from the Catholic News Agency)

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Sanctify me, Save me, Inebriate me…..

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Keeping vigil.

vigil, from the Latin vigilia meaning wakefulness (Greek: pannychis,[1] παννυχίς or agrypnia[2] ἀγρυπνία),[3] is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance. ( Wikipedia) 

Keeping vigil has always been a spiritual practice in Catholicism. This is what we are essentially doing by attending any “Vigil” mass, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Saviour.

There is also a Biblical reference here that can be included. The Shepherds in Luke’s infancy narratives in his Gospel were keeping watch over their sheep on the nightly vigil. In a sense, we are the same shepherds today and we are entrusted to keep watch over one another. While we wait for God during Advent, it’s also important to note that God also keeps Vigil for us. Many people “come home” at Christmas and find God welcoming them back home once again. We pray that they find our church to be a welcoming place and that we show them the love that God always offers to us. In doing so, we have the opportunity to continually welcome them home each week and pray that they will be part of our community regularly.

Christmas 2013 037

Christmas 2013 038

The Sanctuary is ready and the first of the Holy Masses for Christmas may begin.

Meditative singing….a formula of calming repetition…

During Adoration of the Eucharist yesterday we sang this beautiful song of praise and worship. The first time I’ve heard it, and one that I’ll be including in my prayers in future. Eucharistic-Jesus-Adoration

Meditative singing

Singing is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God. It allows everyone to take part in a time of prayer together and to remain together in attentive waiting on God, without having to fix the length of time too exactly.

To open the gates of trust in God, nothing can replace the beauty of human voices united in song. This beauty can give us a glimpse of “heaven’s joy on earth,” as Eastern Christians put it. And an inner life begins to blossom within us.

These songs also sustain personal prayer. Through them, little by little, our being finds an inner unity in God. They can continue in the silence of our hearts when we are at work, speaking with others or resting. In this way prayer and daily life are united. They allow us to keep on praying even when we are unaware of it, in the silence of our hearts.

The “songs of Taizé” published in different languages are simple, but preparation is required to use them in prayer. This preparation should take place before the prayer itself, so that once it begins the atmosphere remains meditative.

During the prayer it is better if no one directs the music; in this way everyone can face the cross, the icons or the altar. (In a large congregation, however, it may be necessary for someone to direct, as discreetly as possible, a small group of instruments or singers who support the rest, always remembering that they are not giving a performance for the others.) The person who begins the songs is generally up front, together with those who will read the psalm, the reading and the intercessions, not facing the others but turned like them towards the altar or the icons. If a song is begun spontaneously, the pitch is generally too low. A tuning fork or pitch pipe can help, or a musical instrument give the first note or accompany the melody. Make sure the tempo does not slow down too much, as this tends to happen when the singing goes on for some time. As the number of participants increases, it becomes necessary to use a microphone, preferably hand-held, to begin and end the songs (they can be ended by singing “Amen” on the final note). The person who begins the singing can support the others by singing into a microphone, being careful not to drown out the other voices. A good sound-system is essential if the congregation is large; if necessary check it before the prayer and try it out with those who will be using the microphones.

Songs in many different languages are appropriate for large international gatherings. In a neighborhood prayer with people of all ages present, most of the songs should be in languages actually understood by some of the participants, or in Latin. If possible, give each person a song sheet or booklet. You can also include one or two well-known local songs or hymns.

Instruments: a guitar or keyboard instrument can support the harmonic structure of the songs. They are especially helpful in keeping the correct pitch and tempo. Guitars should be played in classical, not folk style. A microphone may be necessary for them to be heard. In addition to this basic accompaniment, there are parts for other instruments.   (Taize)

“Something very interesting at Taizé is that this formula of calming repetition has been taken up in the liturgy; that is, it is not used only in personal prayer, but also in prayer together or common prayer. Some young people, who know almost nothing of mystery, are introduced to it here, and they begin to learn how to pray.”

Olivier Clément

I have put visiting the TAIZE COMMUNITY on my bucket list.

 

 

 

Gaze upon the Altar.

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life; you have the message of eternal life. Alleluia.

Fifteenth Ordinary Sunday-(Year B)

Every week I look at the Altar at Mass and am moved by the beauty and simplicity of it.  I have decided to capture the decoration around  the Sanctuary every week to share with you. This week, a simple display of glorious yellows, orange and green was carefully designed to fit precisely in the middle under the Altar, drawing one’s eye to the main place of worship during the Mass.

Significance of the Altar

The Catholic altar is both a sacrificial altar, and a table for a communal meal. In Jesus’s time, altars where animal sacrifices took place as atonement for sin were common under Jewish norms and traditions. The passion of Christ was the ultimate sacrifice, to atone for the sin of mankind. Therefore, the Christ’s sacrifice is enacted each Mass at an altar. The altar is also a table because we are all “called to the Lord’s supper.” The sense of the Catholic altar as a table calls to mind the last supper and the tables around which the early Christians celebrated the Eucharist, as well as the fact that we as a faithful community are sharing in the saving meal.